The good news for Bibb County property owners: The county’s appraisal of your home almost certainly isn’t going up, and could be going down. The bad news: Lower property values across Bibb County could force governments to cut services or raise the tax rate.
But none of that’s close to being decided yet. Bibb County Chief Appraiser Andrea Crutchfield said she doesn’t expect a solid estimate of the tax digest -- the total value of all property in Bibb County -- until March.
Probably in May, property owners will begin seeing a first-of-its-kind annual notice that will list the current appraised value and also an estimate of taxes, based on the previous year’s tax rate.
A state moratorium is blocking properties from increasing in value unless there’s a change to the property, such as a new house or new deck. So most property values will stay the same or go down.
But the annual notice likely will confuse some property owners. Crutchfield said she expects many more property owners will appeal the 2011 appraisal value, even though the assessed value will likely be the same, or lower, than the 2009 and 2010 appraised values because of the moratorium.
Bill Vaughn, chairman of the Macon-Bibb County Board of Tax Assessors, said there’s no way to tell how many people will appeal their taxes, because those notices haven’t been done in Georgia before.
That makes estimates about total tax collections harder.
“We’re going to anticipate a large number” of appeals, he said.
Also muddying things is the fact that the notice from the tax assessors office will include estimates of taxes, which is the domain of the tax commissioners office. Crutchfield and Vaughn said they expect phone calls about taxes, and perhaps tax payment checks, to be sent to the assessors office by mistake.
Behind the scenes, the Board of Equalization that handles a second tier of property valuation appeals will be overseen by the Superior Court clerk’s office instead of the district attorney’s office. Owners of commercial properties over $1 million will also be able to have their cases reviewed by a hearing officer, though a list of eligible hearing officers hasn’t yet been created. Software to deal with the changes is still being updated.
Crutchfield said the changes may lead to complications and confusion.
“I think it will be a challenge to the whole state of Georgia,” she said.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.